Tuesday, October 21, 2014

of Light and Darkness

Hey brother, I hope you aren’t upset that I did not write a commemorative post either for your birthday or the dreadful anniversary. They say where you are, time ceases to exit so it doesn’t matter I suppose. If I know you well, you would be smirking right now at the absurdity of all this.
However, today’s significance is rather pedestrian. It is Dhanteras – the day we mortals pray to the god of wealth. In a day, it will be Diwali. At home, we have been doing the puja for the last few years. You of course haven’t seen it happen. It started a couple of years after you were gone. No celebrations, just the ritual puja at its minimal. I indulged Ma in the beginning, thinking this will give her peace and keep her mind off other thoughts that make her sad. Then after a year or two, it became a part of our household custom. But this year hasn’t been so well for Ma. Her arthritis has gotten worse and now her progressing slowness has been diagnosed as a rare form of Parkinsonism, which goes by the esoteric name of corticobasal ganglionic degeneration, one that doesn’t respond to any medication. This has broken her completely. You remember how she has always taken pride in keeping our home in order, with her near impossible standards. Now, she shuffles in her room and her speech is noticeably sluggish. This loss of control, had hit her hard. The final prognosis was delivered last evening. The doctor confirmed the diagnosis and even ruled out the knee surgery, we had planned, to reduce her arthritic pain. In a few months to a year, she may not be able to move at all and we are looking at feeding tubes and adult diapers in the near future. To maintain some semblance of normalcy I decided that we will perform the puja this evening,  like we have for the last few years.
Then, I am suddenly seized with this realization that I have never really prayed. Except for that one time in the hospital, when I asked for your life to be restored. But even then, I didn’t really believe it would actually happen. I know the words of the all the prayers from years of  conditioning but it never stilled the restlessness in my heart nor gave me the inner quietness that everyone claims it does. I have never been a devout believer. Perhaps I am too complicated to give in to this simple idea of submission. But I never opposed her devotion nor her fervent dependence on her religious faith. I eventually found my solace and peace elsewhere but even then I allowed her to criticise my disregard for her definition of faith. With Ro, I make sure we celebrate all the festivals so that he isn’t ignorant of our rituals and later it will be up to him to decide for himself what faith means to him.
So this Diwali, we will miss you again – your love for the savouries made by Ma, your big hearted laugh at all my jokes that no one else finds funny and our choicest abuses to the inconsiderate neighbours who burst crackers only to frightened the stay dogs. I wish you were around to console Ma and wipe her tears and  help me with the mounting responsibilities. And today, for the first time, I am wondering, will I be able to stand up to it all. After you were gone, I noticed how dysfunctional we have become. Without you, the rest of us became silent silos of sorrow in our inability to share our grief with each other. We continue to live outside our tragedy, quietly denying the pain and the unshed sorrow of losing you and with it our joyful living.